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4.2 out of 5 stars14
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 13 January 2004
I can only agree with the other reviews of this album, in that it was the zenith of the Commotions all too brief collaboration. Where "Rattlesnakes" in particular was smart and full of attitude, "Mainstream" is markeldy different, with Lloyd seemingly more introspective, and less sure of his footing.
Not that this is a negative - the result is moments of rare beauty ("Jennifer She Said") which lends more to a more unadorned honesty than his previous works, where an overeagerness to impress was always just beneath the surface and coupled the emotion being expressed. "Mainstream's" more delicate moments seem to point as to perhaps why this was the case, "From the Hip" being a case in point, rather than betraying the effect.
"My Bag" and "Sean Penn Blues" were also musical departures for a band who by now had shed off the jingle jangle favoured by Orange Juice etc to produce a more complete accompanient for more sombre moods, but also able to funk up their sound and give it an altogether different feel. My own favourite is "29", a fabulous lyric concerning what Nick Cave detailed as "being Love's lover", the propensity for love in full knowledge of the pain of its loss, which for some is the bravest thing we do - come back for more when we've been so hurt.
In their career together, Lloyd and The Commotions summed up what was so wrong about much of UK music journalism in the 80's - a bunch of frustrated musos unable to deal with the fact that a bunch of guys up there doing it were brighter, wordier and more emotionally fragile than them. The result was that admiration gave way to envy, support became mockery and gifted bands like this packed up before they should have, although they've all lead interesting (and hopefully as rewarding) lives. They should look back with great satisfaction at what they achieved, for it's still great 17 years later, and up there with Love in my view. Buy it now!
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VINE VOICEon 18 November 2009
Mainstream was the third and final studio album that Lloyd Cole made with the Commotions. In retrospect this was the perfect book end for the trilogy of the Commotions collaborations beginning with the classic Rattlesnakes, the confused follow up Easy Pieces and then this album.

Mainstream provides a strong contrast with the band's debut. Rattlesnakes tells us stories and tales of observations of art student life and finishes by asking us `Are you ready to be heartbroken? Whereas Mainstream with it's at times fragile reflections back on life and lessons learnt and lost loves would seem to answer that.

Mainstream begins with echoes of the Rattlesnakes debut album with the impossibly wordy My Bag (which is a commentary on celebrity life and fame, `My world gets bigger as my eyesight gets worse) being similar in feel to the debut album opener Perfect skin".

The album progresses with the smooth `From the hip' and by track 5 delivers the knock out classic that is `Jennifer she said', which is possibly the bands finest hour and also represents the use of the 3rd female name in a song by Lloyd. (Julia, Jane and Jennifer just for the record)

Some have suggested that this album was the Zenith of LC and the commotions or even Lloyd Cole's total work, but whilst I don't believe this is the case, Mainstream does most definitely form part of a body of work that represents Lloyd Cole song writing at its most accessible and at its very best alongside Rattlesnakes, Love Story and Antidepressant.

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on 11 July 2014
Ha, I used to have this little cracker on vinyl back in the day, as we used to say when I was a boy and everything was fine, but an erstwhile friend and former housemate, Cliff Doberunusual, who shall rename maneless, robbed it off of me years agog when my sister kicked him out for snorting smack off her son's Gameboy or something equally petty (Tom). Any road up, as my old dad used to say, or rather scream, before they sectioned him, the rascal, apart from sounding somewhat overproduced to ears which had become unaccustomed to the 1980s penchant for largesse, if that's not a tad grandiose, i found the songs were still pleasurable, steeped as they now were also in what we used to call nostalgia back then. All right, Lloyd leaned rather too heavily on Lou Reed, and that American accent, coupled with his obsession for all things Stateside, comes across on occasion as somewhat akin to Hugh Laurie's risible Eton Bluesman act, but I still like it. Good grief but I had such hopes in those days, such hopes, and these songs sometimes, to some small extent, help to rekindle them. And oh, the pain.
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on 16 July 2003
'Mainstream' is, without doubt, the finest album that Lloyd Cole has ever put his name to. Although it ultimately marked the end of The Commotions, they nonetheless bow out on a high. Never a great singer, Cole makes the best of his vocal limitations on a bunch of very sharply crafted songs. Few albums from the 80s have stood up to time's rigours quite as well as 'Mainstream'. Songs such as self-sending up of 'My Bag' and the own-up time of 'From The Hip' are simply superb, literate, funny, melodic, and beautifully-produced, with the typically clean Commotions sound at its zenith. Songs such as the trumpet-adorned 'Big Snake' are masterpieces of late 80's anomie, with a strange narcotic langour pervading the recorded sound. There was something at the core of 'Mainstream' that Cole never quite revisited on other albums. It's good that this album, which made the UK top ten on its release is still around - Cole periodically resurfaces, and every subsequent solo album has much to reccommend it, but the purest distillation of this distinctive talent is to be found on 'Mainstream'.
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on 6 February 2002
The final LP from Lloyd Cole and the Commotions probably saw the strongest performances from the band across some mighty fine songs. The music may not have the jangle of the "Rattlesnakes" era, but is certainly more diverse. In particular, "Mr Malcontent" and "Jennifer She Said" (another 'J' name for the collection!) are possibly the band's best recordings. The lead-off single, "My Bag", worryingly failed to make the top 40, maybe because it's grooviness was unexpected. The record buying public missed a treat of intelligent well-crafted songs.
Among the highlights is "Sean Penn Blues", a rocking ode to the ex-Mr Madonna and tells the true story of a cruel stunt played on him by NY smart-alec journalists. I wonder if Lloyd is planning a song in honour of Guy Ritchie? Or better still, should Madonna sing a song about Shane Ritchie?
Apart from the listless "Big Snake", every one of these tracks hit the mark in terms of playing, their lyrics (natch) and Lloyd's voice.
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on 8 December 2011
Mainstream and the first album, Rattlesnakes, were the highs of Lloyd Cole (sometimes with the Commotions)'s musical career.
"from the Hip" is fairly mellow, but sticks in my head;
"Jennifer she said" is beautiful;
"mister Malcontent" has great guitar work, ranging from the jangly first half to the heavy second half, which few people would recognise as being the Commotions (and sadly lacking from Lloyd's solo albums);
"hey Rusty" is about someone in a middle-age, middle-class job looking back at his left wing roots that he'd sold out on, and wanting to return to them - even more appropriate now as so many people who listened to Lloyd Cole in the '80s will now be turning 50;
"These Days" is a quiet song but also sticks in my head.
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on 29 January 2014
had this album when it first came out in 87 sold all my records big mistake but got it again on cd the best album he ever made still sounds as good today as it did then top album would recomend to anyone who luvs lloyd cole dave64
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on 8 February 2016
loved his early stuff.played rattlesnakes to death.this i think was his 3rd album.jennifer she said was a cracker but one or two not so good.
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on 18 December 2014
great CD and arrived promptly
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on 4 March 2016
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